The origins and functions of the World Health Organization (WHO) Library and the global, regional, and national objectives of the WHO Health Literature Services Program (HLSP) are reviewed. WHO is an aggregate of nations and not a supra-national body. With limited resources and unlimited needs, HLSP is involved in surveys, training, regional medical libraries, national and regional networks, bibliographic services and document delivery, promotion, coordination, and communication. The basic concept of HLSP eschews internationally-conceived, self-contained technical projects in favor of broad programs based on national planning. Small rural centers receive more attention than large urban hospitals, and preventive medicine together with health education and community involvement are of more immediate concern than curative medicine. National self-reliance implies national initiative but not necessarily national self-sufficiency. Recent planning and implementation of HLSP activities are described
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